Led by a pair of freshman, North Forsyth came out on the winning end of a nail-biter for a change.
Raiders left-hander Matthew Heard gave up one run over 8 1/3 innings, and Bailey Mauldin drove in both of the team’s runs in a 2-1 victory against Alpharetta on Thursday at Raider Field.
North entered the week having lost seven games in a row, including six during that stretch by a single run. The team has played a total of nine games decided by one run this season, losing seven.
“I guess we finally figured out how to win a one run game,” North coach Jim Cahill said. “It was nice to pick up a one-run win, especially in the region. I think this will give us a lot of confidence.”
Heard kept North (4-11, 2-2 Region 6-AAAAA) in the game with a strong pitching effort. The freshman gave up six hits and struck out six while on the mound.
“He has been one of our better pitchers all year long,” Cahill said. “He battles when he goes out there and he gave us a chance to win.”
Neither team got runners into scoring position until the top of the fourth inning.
Alpharetta’s Evan Trout (3-for-3, R) hit a pop-up into right field that landed just inside the first baseline for a single. Josh Dobbs (2-for-2) also singled to right field, advancing Trout to third.
Trout then scored when Tyler Agard hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field.
Starting pitcher David Leith (6 IP, 5 H, 6K, BB) kept the North offense out of scoring position early for Alpharetta (9-8, 5-4), but North broke through in the fifth inning.
Chris Vincent (2-for-3) drove a leadoff single into center field, and Tony Papale moved pinch runner Tyler Collins into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt down the first base line.
North followed with two consecutive hits, including an RBI single by Bailey Mauldin (2-for-3, 2 RBI) to tie the game 1-1, and the two teams headed into extra innings in a stalemate.
Heard stayed on the mound until he gave up a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt in the top of the ninth, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position.
But North got a clutch relief performance by Hammond Hughes, who struck out Tyler Keeley and got Machaley Bryant to line out to third baseman Tony Papale and end the threat.
North wasted no time manufacturing hits in the bottom of the frame.
Vincent slapped a single past first base, which set up a sacrifice bunt by Papale. Vincent then advanced to third after a wild pitch from reliever Machaley Bryant.
That set up Mauldin to deliver again and be the hero of the game. The freshman lined a single past third base that scored Vincent for the walk-off victory.
“Tonight was a great team effort, but I was glad to be the clutch guy and pull us through,” Mauldin said. “This was a big win for our team.”
North lost 4-1 to Milton on Friday and will play three games in Alabama and western Florida this week during spring break.